[b-hebrew] Qumran agreement with LXX and MT, was: aph

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Feb 25 12:34:07 EST 2004

Dear Peter,

>> ...  He said that because of the
>> multi-cultural nature of Palestine in Jesus time, and having been a
>> Hellenized territory for the previous 200 years, it would be almost
>> impossible not to believe that Greek was the common language of the land
>> that everyone spoke. ...
>So how does he explain the Roman commander's surprise in Acts 21:37?
>I have lived in a country which had been dominated and occupied by a
>neighbouring major country, Russia, for 200 years. The country had
>become very multicultural, and most educated people spoke some Russian.
>But it was certainly not the common language heard on the street, except
>among a small Russianised minority, and among Russian immigrants.

HH: There is some weight in your observation about Acts 21:37. It was a
multilinqual setting, from all that I have read. Aramaic was the natural
tongue of the people. But that does not mean that Greek could not have been
widely known. One would expect this in the Decapolis area, but perhaps in
the south it was less the case. However, the remark about Paul speaking
Greek was apparently a lead-in for a follow-up question about his possibly
being the Egyptian insurrectionist that the captain knew about. People from
Egypt evidently spoke Greek. The captain thought he had an insurrectionist
on his hands, and that is how he tried to put two and two together. So I
don't know that his comment has to mean that most of the Jerusalem crowd
could not speak Greek.

It does seem to suggest that it was not expected that most would. If
everyone had spoken Greek, the comment would be meaningless. I brought this
citation above as a counterweight to your suggestion that the verse might
mean most of the Jerusalem crowd could not speak Greek. What you say above
about educated people speaking Russian in the country you're in seems more
reasonable. There was an interest in Hellenistic things and had been for
centuries, from what I recall. Here is a citation that seems all right:

The violation of the Second Temple, which had been built about 520-515
B.C., provoked a successful Jewish rebellion under the generalship of Judas
(Judah) Maccabaeus. In 140 B.C. the Hasmonean Dynasty began under the
leadership of Simon Maccabaeus, who served as ruler, high priest, and
commander in chief. Simon, who was assassinated a few years later,
formalized what Judas had begun, the establishment of a theocracy,
something not found in any biblical text.

Despite priestly rule, Jewish society became Hellenized except in its
generally staunch adherence to monotheism. Although rural life was
relatively unchanged, cities such as Jerusalem rapidly adopted the Greek
language, sponsored games and sports, and in more subtle ways adopted and
absorbed the culture of the Hellenes. Even the high priests bore such names
as Jason and Menelaus. Biblical scholars have identified extensive Greek
influence in the drafting of commentaries and interpolations of ancient
texts during and after the Greek period. The most obvious influence of the
Hellenistic period can be discerned in the early literature of the new
faith, Christianity.

				Harold Holmyard

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